Born on this day in Peoria, Illinois, feminist leader Betty Friedan (1921-2006) created a sensation in 1963 with The Feminine Mystique, a book which examined the discontent of women, what she identified as "the problem that has no name."
Writer Barbara Seaman said, "Betty Friedan is to the women's movement what Martin Luther King, Jr. was to blacks." The groundbreaking author gave new depth to the era's shallow definitions of "womanhood." Her book explored the meaning of "fulfillment."
"For the first time in history," wrote Friedan, "women are becoming aware of an identity crisis in their lives, a crisis which began generations ago."
Friedan polled women in her 1942 Smith College graduating class and discovered many were dissatisfied with their lives because they were not equal with men and not given the chance to develop their talents.
"Women have had the vote for over forty years and their organizations lobby in Washington D.C. for all sorts of causes; why, why, why donít they take up their own causes and obvious needs?" she wondered.
With a passion to make a difference, she became one of the chief architects of the women's liberation movement. In 1966 Friedan co-founded the National Organization for Women (NOW) "to take action to bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American society."
NOW has grown into the Nation's largest feminist organization, with more than half a million contributing members and over 550 chapters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Each year brings more opportunity and greater strength.